SoundCloud Is Expanding Programmatic Advertising on a Global Level

It's working with Rubicon Project for real-time audio and video inventory

SoundCloud has begun offering programmatic video and audio ads. SoundCloud
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SoundCloud is ready to roll out its programmatic advertising to a broader audience.

Today, the company announced it’s partnering with Rubicon Project to make the music streaming service’s global video and audio ads inventories available for the first time in an automated fashion. Using first-party data and content-level targeting, brands will be able to access SoundCloud’s audience across screens to reach the 175 million monthly users on the platform. (The company operates in eight markets: U.S., United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Germany.)

“We really believe that audio ad formats are going to be an important component for how we talk to users in the future,” said Tom Kershaw, Rubicon Project’s chief product and engineering officer.

This isn’t the first programmatic partnership SoundCloud has landed in recent months. A few weeks ago, it began working with Triton Digital on programmatic advertising in the U.S., and while SoundCloud is the latest music streaming service to expand its programmatic advertising, others have been doing it for years. In 2015, Pandora began offering programmatic display ads for desktop and mobile, and then last summer Spotify rolled out its programmatic audio offering globally just a few months after debuting automated display and video ads.

While streaming music isn’t a new habit, how much time people spend listening to digital audio might be somewhat surprising. According to a report last month by eMarketer, U.S. adults on average spent the largest share of mobile time listening to digital audio, spending around 35 minutes a day with apps and another 21 minutes per day via mobile websites.

The numbers are even higher when looking at younger audiences: Millennials listen to 75 percent more music per day than Baby Boomers, according to one study last year by Entertainment Retail Association and the British Phonographic Industries. According to data cited by Digital Music News, 47 percent of listeners ages 16 to 34 listened to as much as two hours of music per day, while another 46 percent listened to between three and six hours a day. That’s good news for SoundCloud, which says millennial and Gen Z listeners make up around 75 percent of the platform’s audience.

“SoundCloud’s audience is loyal, influential and highly engaged,” SoundCloud chief revenue officer Alison Moore said in a statement. “Together with Rubicon Project we are now able to serve up our global audio and video inventory on one platform for the first time in an automated fashion, making it easier than ever for advertiser to share their message with the right person, at precisely the right time.”

However, despite the optimism around the jump to programmatic, February has been a bit of a rough month for SoundCloud. According to a report earlier this week in The Financial Times, the company confirmed its chief operating officer and director of finance had both left. The report also cited investors who said the company has been asking for additional funding, claiming that SoundCloud could run out of money sometime this year. (The company, which debuted a paid model last year, has never turned a profit.)

In a report by Billboard earlier this week, a SoundCloud spokesperson disputed the Financial Times story, admitting that while the company is still fundraising, it’s not “begging” for money like one German financier had described.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that SoundCloud has previously used programmatic advertising in the U.S. The story previously stated this rollout was SoundCloud’s first programmatic advertising.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.